Pool Reviews

Port Kembla Olympic Pool – NSW 2505

Port Kembla Olympic Pool


Famous now for its steel works, but back in 1770 Red Point near Port Kembla was Captain Cook’s first sighting of the East Coast

My experience in the pool

My first swim here was on a bright but very breezy day in early February. The wind off the sea was so strong that as I swam eastwards it whipped up small waves which made breathing more difficult (though it also just made me improve my head lift each time I came up for air in freestyle).

This is a beautiful 50m pool, marked out with lanes (3 lanes open on the morning I came and lots of space for leisure swimmers or school kids’ life saver training in the other half of the pool) and lovely tiles. The water is filtered and pumped every day so it’s not officially a tidal pool, giving it the feel of a normal inland pool, though it’s salt water straight from the ocean beyond those walls.

It’s a fantastic spot for a swim, with views out along the beach at Port Kembla and, from the seaward end, views over the rocks and to the ocean beyond.

There’s also a steep set of steps up one side of the pool, which are presumably there to give access to seating (on grass) to watch any competitions taking place here. Makes a great viewing spot to look out over the panorama of pool and coast.

Getting there, getting in, getting changed

The pool is at the northern end of Port Kembla beach. There’s parking for about 50 cars nearby. But if you’re in Port Kembla itself, it’s about 1500 metres to the pool itself down Military Road.

Unlike most natural rock pools, this (free to enter) pool is patrolled by lifeguards and there are opening/closing times, so worth checking these before going specially (photo in the gallery here for 2014-15 times).

Once at the pool, you can take the vertical steps into the water at the shallow or deep end for lane swimming or join the leisure swimmers by entering via the paddling area which merges into the pool on its northern side.

Changing rooms are right next to the pool, with warm showers (though a 3-minutes limit on showers).

Tidal differences

No difference since this is not a tidal pool. Though, the day I was there, the surf beyond the sea wall was whipping up quite a spray, and I can imagine in a storm some waves may crash over into the pool. But since this is a pool pumped and filtered fresh every day, those are probably days when the pool would be closed.

Other practical points

There are three extra pools: a toddlers’ pool at 0.3m depth; a paddling pool at 0.5m; and a slightly deeper kiddies’ pool at 0.95m.

Lifeguards on watch.

Pool closed June to mid-September

History and stories of the pool

The rock pool here was built in 1937 (see Ross’s story below) and on your way out, you might just see a fading brass plaque which marks the opening of the first pool here that year.

It’s been through a number of redevelopments since, though, before the current, modern pool opened about 10 years ago.

Apparently after one renovation job a large crack appeared half way across the whole pool, forcing it to be closed for a lengthy period while it was repaired and rebuilt.

People I met here included:

Ross, who told me he was brought here in 1937 as a seven year old by his grandfather for the grand opening and has been swimming here ever since. As a country boy, this was a real treat. But later, even as a steel worker at the local works, he and his colleagues would come down with their sandwiches for a swim at lunchtime on hot days. Now, he’s still coming though he says his lap times aren’t what they used to be!

Peter and his wife Ingrid: Arrived in Australia from Germany (and Austria) in 1961. He now lives locally and loves his regular swims here and at Shellharbour’s Beverley Whitfield pool.


What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winter in the 1960s?

Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them.  Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.

Links to other articles on this pool

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2010/10/28/3051130.htm (though this is about the old, now disused rock pool at the other end of Port Kembla beach)


Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?

There is a poolside café, where you can get a good milkshake and a decent coffee (though mine was a little bit too scorching hot to let the taste come through). There are also home-baked cookies, plus all the usual fast food selection.

If you really like your quality coffee, I say it’s worth going the extra mile to:

For coffee: The Red Kitchen

Shop 1 Kembla Court, 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla


Closed Sunday/Monday

Otherwise open from 8.30am till 3pm

Red Kitchen Café in Port Kembla

This is a great little café, where the daily baked muffins are to die for (fig or strawberry coconut on the day I called by); much needed – and deserved – after a tough swim workout. Coffee is very good, roasted by Danes.

There’s seating inside but also a garden terrace in the courtyard shared with other interesting shops on Port Kembla’s main street.


6 thoughts on “Port Kembla Olympic Pool – NSW 2505”

  1. What a great spot for a pool – I love the view! I’ll definitely have to check this pool out at some point. Cheers

  2. The sign showing pool hours in the photo is not completely correct. For the last couple of years Port Kembla has been open till 1pm except Wednesdays till 31 May. Similarly for Thirroul pool, except it’s closed on Fridays. In my opinion Port Kembla is by far the better choice, having the better pool layout and the hill and walls providing some shelter for sunning from most wind directions. Thirroul is very open to westerlies. For the hardy, the Continental Pool is open till 2pm all through winter except Mondays.

    One thing I’ve noticed during my occasional pool visits south (my sister lives in Wollongong), is that they seem to have only a single lifeguard mid-week, compared with Sydney pools that seem to have a minimum of three. Maybe the reduced overheads is a reason for all Wollongong Council pools, with the exception of the heated Corrimal and Dapto, being free.

  3. Great beach location and pool facility. Cafe woeful since changing hands. The middle of summer and hardly anyone in there at lunch time. Speaks volumes.

    1. I haven’t managed to get to Port Kembla pool for a while now. It was so busy when we tried it a year ago that we couldn’t even park let alone try getting in the water. Shame the kiosk is not so good these days, especially with Port Kembla itself a bit of a hike away.

  4. For the first time in 50years I returned to port pool I learnt to to swim here when I was in high school Berkeley high it was amazing to return and to see the changes they made I was shocked to see the high diving board gone but it is better with out it opens up the pool more for swimmers I almost did not get in the water I felt old did not think I would make the other end of the lap side great idea keep those lanes just for laps any ways I did it 5 laps with flippers it was ausome it took me 15 mins I have a shoulder injury can not wait to go back

    1. Well done for getting back in the pool. I love that pool in Port Kembla but I guess it must have been so different in those days when you learnt, and yes the diving board would have made it a very different place. Hope you keep on swimming

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